The Belize National Teacher’s Union held a rally in San Ignacio today. Despite constant rain, some 600 teachers showed up for the Union’s third assemblage, calling for awareness to national issues and endorsing its requested salary adjustment. After years of clamoring on the part of the Union, the Barrow Administration has agreed to instate the salary adjustment by mid-year, but the teachers aren’t completely satisfied. And here’s why. Prime Minister, the Hon. Dean Barrow, in his New Year’s address, stated that the adjustment will be granted in August. But it appears that note was an oversight, as the agreed upon date by both the Union and GOB is July. And though the PM has verbally admitted that it was indeed an error on his part, the Union are now demanding a binding contract, consisting of every last bit of detail, so there can be no backpedaling by Government.
“The salary adjustment issue became an issue because the Prime Minister, in his new year’s message, indicated that the salary adjustment would become effective August. We, the teachers are saying, that is not what the teachers have been negotiating. We have not discussed anything about the other proposals; we are not discussing the negotiations. The Prime Minister, I guess if to the House or if to the media ha indicated that he had tried calling me that it’s true. But I was…open your eyes; he wants to call me 5:00 o’clock, 7:00 o’clock in the morning with a restricted number. The Prime Minister has indicated that it is a genuine error of his part. I said to Channel 5, if that is the case, we are giving him the benefit of the doubt. But we want it in writing. We cannot do beef lip flapping, one day is July and the next day it’s August and back and forth”.
Mr. Luke Palacio: “The other issue with the salary adjustment is that the government guarantees us a part of the floor, a minimum salary adjustment over the three years that we are asking for in our collective bargaining agreement, and we have adamantly said NO, and we have adamantly said we want the floor and we continue to fight for the floor because that is what our membership wants. How can you be saying to us in one breath, the economy is growing, things are moving, things are happening. Then, you come and talk about substantial and you can’t even say what will be the minimum that you can afford? We are not going to stand by eye light. People say, we as teachers did not go to school to be fools”.